The world of figure skating inherently lacks diversity or inclusion of Black women, but Starr takes every opportunity to write her own narrative on the ice.
Competitive figure skater, Starr Andrews wants you to know that she’s a rather awkward, clumsy and sometimes goofy teenager who loves music and her family. She contemplates the enormity of the raindrops over Taipei and trains with the discipline and tenacity of a true champion. Her success on the ice is not attributed to any parlor trick or pejorative categorization typically reserved for Black figure skaters by commentators and media. Starr Andrews’ success is the result of technical skill, natural athleticism, and quite literally, the divine impact of her mother’s heart.
Starr made her appearance into the mainstream when a 2010 YouTube video of then nine-year-old Starr skating to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair” went viral. Her mother, Toshawa Andrews had choreographed and styled the routine which has now received over fifty million views. Toshawa is a former pro-skater who inspired Starr’s desire to get onto the ice at the tender and fearless age of three.
Starr’s ascension in the competitive skating world has not been without difficulty. Her dream is to “become the first African American to win the Winter Olympics in figure skating.” Starr trains tirelessly to achieve this goal with coaching from the dynamic duo, Derek Delmore and Peter Kongkasem. Her practice, competition and travel schedules are rigorous and expensive. Toshawa is the primary facilitator of each avenue of not only Starr’s busy life but also older sister Skylar, a gymnast, and younger brother Ashton, a baseball player. Toshawa homeschools each of her children while managing her own health after having suffered a dozen heart attacks from 2007 to as recently as 2016. Toshawa was diagnosed with coronary microvascular disease, which affects the walls and inner lining of tiny coronary artery blood vessels that branch off from larger ones. Toshawa’s labored heart causes chronic fatigue and angina as well as an increased risk of heart attack.
Self-care for Toshawa Andrews is rejecting the Superhero complex that can be easily imposed on a Black woman raising three active, homeschooled, world travelers. She is very much aware of her own mortality and relies on her strong faith and acceptance that she simply can not say yes to everything, and that is okay. She listens to her body to stay as rested, relaxed, organized, and healthy as she possibly can in order to continue to provide for her children as they grow to achieve their goals. Her strength is not lost on Starr who immediately names her mother as her greatest inspiration in life and the rink. Observing her mother’s strength and resilience gives Starr the motivation and loving support that she needs to work hard toward achieving her personal and professional goals while valuing time spent with family, surrounded in giggles and lots of love.
With her goals set on the gold in the Winter Olympics, Starr postpones summer vacations to train and polish her programs daily. She practices preparing the illusive triple axle for competition and skates with a passion that seems to propel her across the ice. The world of figure skating inherently lacks diversity or inclusion of Black women, but Starr takes every opportunity to write her own narrative on the ice. From her costume choices to song selections and choreography, Starr is an original who is unafraid to showcase her skill set in ways that represent her individuality. In her first year as a Senior skater, Starr earned a spot on the team to represent the United States at the Four Continents Championships and the Junior World Championships. At the 2018 National Championships, she performed her long program to Whitney Houston’s “One Moment In Time” with a creative twist. Starr turned the classic ballad into a duet by recording her own satin vocals for the first half of the song and letting Houston’s belt through the bridge and key change lift her into the delicate drama of her closing laybacks and Bielman spins. The audience and Starr erupted with tears, and an outpouring of emotion and flowers tossed onto the ice. Hers was the most engaging performance of the night.
Although the 2018 Winter Olympics are behind us, rest assured that Starr Andrews’ is a name that we will continue to hear for years to come. Her star continues to rise as she makes a seamless transition to Senior competition with her mark set squarely on The Gold.